On 23 November 2020, Donya Alinejad published the article “Techno-emotional mediations of transnational intimacy: social media and care relations in long-distance Romanian families” in Media, Culture & Society (2020).
The paper focuses on ‘left-behind’ family members of Romanian economic migrants and investigates how the use of mobile devices and social media apps helps people stay in touch with their loved ones. The paper’s full abstract is:
The transnational circulation of intimate care is increasingly mediated by digital communications. Research conceptualizing long-distance emotional intimacy in terms of ‘care chains’ has been influential in understanding international care economies. Yet, this framework has limitations for theorizing the role of media in communications of care. With a focus on the ‘left-behind’ family members of Romanian economic migrants, this paper investigates how the use of social media apps and mobile devices within the context of a major intra-EU labor migration phenomenon helps people stay in touch with their transnationally mobile loved ones. It draws on interview material elicited among the close family members of Romanian labor migrants living in Bucharest and surrounding areas. The analysis focuses on the sensory role of social media platforms and the materiality of smartphones in shaping relations of long-distance emotional care. Showing how video calling and photo sharing practices produce emotional experiences that are specific to contemporary combinations of platform-device technicity and social sensitization, the paper argues for conceptualizing transnational care as a mediated emotional experience. By theorizing the role of media in how care is not merely transferred but felt through mediation, the paper demonstrates how media practices produce a techno-emotional mediation of transnational care.
The paper is published open access and is available here.